Hellenic Navy Hydra frigate class Salamis (F-455)
Hellenic Navy Hydra frigate class Salamis (F-455)

US State Department Approves Possible Upgrade of Hellenic Navy Hydra-Class Frigates

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Greece of MEKO Class Frigate Modernization and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.5 billion. The proposed sale will improve Greece’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing an effective combatant deterrent capability to protect maritime interests and infrastructure in support of its strategic location on NATO’s southern flank. This acquisition, which will be awarded to the winner of an international competition for the Hellenic Navy (HN) MEKO Class Frigate Upgrade, will enhance stability and maritime security in the Eastern Mediterranean region and contribute to security and strategic objectives of NATO and the United States. The Government of Greece has requested to buy equipment and services to repair, update, and enhance their four (4) existing Hellenic Navy (HN) MEKO Class frigates. Greece contributes to NATO operations in Kosovo, as well as to counterterrorism and counter-piracy maritime efforts. Greece will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces. The principal contractors will be Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Waltham, MA; Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, MD; BAE Systems, Arlington, VA; and VSE Corporation, Alexandria, VA.

These upgrades will include the following: eight (8) Close in Weapon Systems (CIWS) Phalanx BLK 1B Baseline 2 upgrade kits; four (4) MK 45, 5” 54 caliber gun overhauls; four (4) MK 49 Guided Missile Launcher Systems; four (4) COMBATSS-21 Combat Management Systems; and, four (4) AN/SQS-56 Sonar overhauls. Also included is the repair and/or upgrade of existing systems overhaul of Narwhal 20A Gun System; Sylena MK 2 Decoy Launching System with CANTO torpedo countermeasure; Radar/Fire Control TRS-4D; Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Mode 5; NIXIE SLQ-25 Surface Ship Torpedo Defense System; Helicopter Handling System (Repairs); Defense Advance GPS Receiver (DAGR); Gun Computer System (GCS); Low Frequency Active Towed Sonar (LFATS); Compact Low Frequency Active Passive Variable Depth Sonar-2 (CAPTAS-2); Infrared Search & Track System (IRST); Elta Electronic Warfare (EW), with C-ESM, R-ESM, and ECM capability; Naval Laser- Warning System (NLWS); 7 meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB); SQQ-89 ASW System; Fire Control Radar System; Improved Point Detection System-Lifecycle Replacement (IPDS-LR); Enhanced Maritime Biological Detection (EMBD), as well as significant Hull, Mechanical and Electrical upgrades.

The Hellenic Navy Hydra-class frigate HS Psara (F 494) fires its 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57), March 12, 2021.
The Hellenic Navy Hydra-class frigate HS Psara (F 494) fires its 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57), March 12, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb J. Sarten)

The MEKO 200 is a frigate design by the Blohm + Voss shipyard of Germany, as part of the MEKO family of warships. The MEKO family of warships was developed by the German company Blohm+Voss. MEKO is a registered trademark. The portmanteau stands for “Mehrzweck-Kombination” (English: multi-purpose-combination). It is a concept in modern naval shipbuilding based on modularity of armament, electronics and other equipment, aiming at ease of maintenance and cost reduction. MEKO ships include families of frigates, corvettes and ocean-going patrol boats. The latest variant is the “Combat Ship for the Littorals” or MEKO CSL. It has also been called a “Littoral Combatant Ship”, but it is much smaller than the American Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). There was speculation that this design would be of interest to Israel,but it was not. Ultimately however, Israel opted for four modified K130 Braunschweig-class corvettes, the first of which is expected to enter service in 2019. The new variant is dubbed the Sa’ar 6-class corvette.

The Hydra class (MEKO 200HN) are a group of four frigates in service with the Hellenic Navy. They were designed in Germany and are part of the MEKO group of modular warships, in this case the MEKO 200 design. The programme was authorised in 1988 and partially paid for with FMS aid and previsioned for the commission of six vessels. The first ship was built in Germany and commissioned in 1992 but suffered a serious fire while working up near Portland, England. Repairs were completed in 1993. The Greek built warships were delayed due to financial problems on the part of the Hellenic Shipyards completing in the late 1990s which also led to limiting the total number of vessels to four mainly after the acquisition of eight Kortenaer-class frigates from the Netherlands in the late 1990s. In May 2019, the Joint Chiefs of General Staff Council decided the commencement of the modernization program for the four ships of the class. The shipyard that will win the contract for the construction of 4 frigates and 2 ships as the interim solution will also modernize the 4 meko class frigates to ensure commonality between the systems of the new frigates and the modernized meko class frigates.

Hellenic Navy Hydra frigate class Salamis (F-455)
The Hellenic Navy Hydra frigate class Salamis (F-455) during a Passing Exercise with Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) flagship HMS Duncan in the Aegean Sea. (NATO Photo by GBR N LPhot Paul Hall)

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